Would you believe you can buy a fun car to drive in today’s crazy used car market? You can; you just have to search like a hawk on your local Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace to find one. The folks over Donut Media pulled out a strong list of fun-to-drive cars that can be purchased even if you have a strict budget. Here are six of our favorites.
1. First-generation Porsche Boxster
The first-generation Porsche Boxster, which was made between 1997 and 2004, was never the most popular model in the brand’s history. However, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun to drive. The base-model Boxster had a naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter engine that made 201 hp, but it was later revised to make 217. That may not sound like much, but it was enough power to propel the car to 60 mph from a standstill in less than six seconds.
Opting for the Porsche Boxster S will lead to more fun with its 250-hp engine. However, that will likely set you back more than $10,000.
2. Lexus IS 300
A rear-drive Toyota with a six-cylinder engine and Lexus luxury? Sign us up! The first generation of the Lexus IS 300 was a little beast as it pumped out 215 hp and 218 lb-ft of torque from its 3.0-liter straight-six engine. Couple that power with an available five-speed manual transmission, and you have a luxuriously sporty ride for less than $10,000.
Edmunds has this to say about the IS 300’s ride in their review: “The IS 300 is an easy car to pilot aggressively, thanks to its responsive steering and braking, nimble size, and excellent driving position.” We would say that it’s a “win” in our book.
3. 2010 BMW 128i
The 2010 BMW 128i follows the “fun” recipe by offering a 230-hp inline-six engine in a rear-drive small coupe. The 128i is a fun little car to toss around in the corners thanks to its sporty suspension and small-car dimensions. The editors at MotorTrend once called it a “steal at just under $30,000” when it was new. Considering you can find decent examples on the used market for less than $10,000, the BMW 128i is a downright bargain.
4. 8th-generation Honda Civic Si
It’s no secret that we have a lot of love for Hondas around here, and the eighth-generation Civic Si is one of our favorites. Produced from 2006 to 2011, this version of the Civic Si came with a high-revving K20 engine that made 200 hp. That energetic powerplant was connected to a slick-shifting six-speed manual transmission that put the power down with the help of a limited-slip differential.
As you can imagine, that setup made the sporty Civic really fun to drive, especially in canyon settings. Fortunately, you can still find one for less than $10,000. It just might have a lot of miles on it.
5. Honda Del Sol
The Honda Del Sol was a roadster with a Targa top that was based on the fifth-generation Civic. It was small and lightweight, which means that even if you find one with a SOHC, 125-hp engine in it, it’s still fun to drive. However, if you can find a Del Sol with the 160-hp B16A engine, then you’re really in for a treat. Although, that one might cost a little more than $10,000 in today’s market.
6. Toyota MR2 Spyder
The Toyota MR2 Spyder was the version that not many people wanted. It didn’t exude any crowd-pleasing aesthetics, nor was it very practical. However, what many of those naysayers may not know is that the MR2 Spyder was really lightweight, and although its 1.8-liter engine only put out around 138 hp, it was still fun to drive. Additionally, its rear-drive configuration and folding soft top made for a lot of open-air canyon-carving fun.
Fun car for less than $10,000
You might not think you can find a fun car for less than $10,000 in today’s market, but it is possible. These six cars are a good place to start. Just remember that you may have to do a little digging to find a diamond in the rough, though.